Arsenal’s topsy-turvy season continued at the weekend with a superb 3-0 win over Manchester United. Yet optimism remains tempered by a calamitous 3-2 home defeat just days earlier to Olympiakos. And, despite high expectations of providing serious challenges for both the Premier League and Champions League titles, consistency continues to elude the Gunners.
Prior to the win over Manchester United, manager Arsene Wenger was again thrust back under harsh scrutiny, with much of the criticism a holdover from the summer transfer window when Arsenal were the only club in Europe’s major leagues not to sign a single outfield player. Injuries, as they so often do at the Emirates Stadium, have already threatened to take their toll on some thin areas of Arsenal’s squad. And there could well be an imperative to dip into the transfer market when the window reopens in January.
Here are three players Wenger may look to target.
Daniele Rugani (Juventus)
The Italy Under-21 center-back saw his reputation soar during two impressive seasons at Empoli, prompting Juventus to convert their co-ownership agreement to an outright purchase of his rights this past summer. Yet, facing strong competition for a place in the Italian champions’ backline, Rugani has played just a solitary minute for the club this season. That lack of playing time has prompted speculation that Arsenal are trailing him with a view to a January move. Yet, while the Gunners are believed to want a permanent deal, Juventus are thought to have no interest in relinquishing their rights to the talented defender. Given that Rugani is unlikely to be guaranteed a place in Arsenal’s side, it appears a tough deal to pull off.
William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)
Francis Coquelin has already provided Wenger with one scare this season when suffering an injury against Chelsea last month. A serious problem for the Frenchman and Arsenal would be left desperately short in the defensive midfield role. It is no surprise then that rumors continue to circulate suggesting Arsenal hold an interest in the highly rated Carvalho. A regular member of Portugal’s senior squad, the physically gifted midfielder was voted player of the tournament at this summer’s European Under-21 Championship, and will surely be leaving Sporting Lisbon sooner rather than later. Given that his contract expires in 2018, next summer may well be the time when it happens, although Arsenal could yet tempt Sporting into an earlier sale with a big-money offer in January.
Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli)
The links between Arsenal and Higuaín refuse to die, more than two years after the Gunners lost out on the Argentina striker to Napoli. Speculation was rife this past summer that he was set to move after Napoli failed to make it into the Champions League and Rafa Benitez departed as manager. Yet Napoli repeatedly said they would not allow the 27-year-old to depart unless his release clause worth nearly 95 million euros (£70 million) was met. Should Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud fail to provide the goals or one or both suffers an injury, Arsenal could be desperately looking for forward reinforcements, especially after Danny Welbeck’s injury setback. Still, it is difficult to see them matching Napoli’s demands. And Higuaín has so far given no indication that he is ready to push for a move.